Wheelchairs have become so lightweight that they may even be used in sports. They can even be customised according to the needs of its users. Electric and battery operated wheelchair have also been developed and companies continue to search for new developments. Because of the technology associated with wheelchairs, people fail to realise that they have existed from the time both wheels and chairs were invented. Antique wheelchairs are now found generaly in museums and maybe in sketches from the old days.
The roots of wheelchairs can be traced back to the 6th century as a sketch from that era is considered as the oldest indication wheelchairs. Historians believe that wheelchairs may have existed even before they were drawn.
Another image portraying a chair with wheels was traced to Ancient Egypt. According to historic records, Spain's King Phillip owned a rolling chair way back in the 16th century. Furthermore, France's King Louis XIV also owned one while recovering from an operation. It is likely that common craftsmen also developed their own types of wheelchairs.
Wheelchairs are believed to have begun resembling the modern version back in the 18th century. Following the American Civil War and the First World War, the antique wheelchairs were wooden and had seats made of wicker.
By that time, wheelchairs featured spoked wheels, the foot and armrests could also be adjusted. By the late 1800s, a patent for a wheelchair that could be propelled by its user had been filed.
It was not until 1932 when the foldable wheelchair was invented through the efforts of a mining engineer who experienced some serious injuries. Through a partnership with a mechanical engineer, the E&J Company was established. By the mid-1900s, the same company developed the first electric wheelchair.
At this time, manual wheelchairs were already prolific and were even used in sports, especially in England. In 1964, the Paralympics was already launched in Tokyo and in 1975, the wheelchair sportsman Bob Hall finished the Boston Marathon using a manual wheelchair.
Wheelchairs started becoming lighter through the 70s and 80s because of the use especially in sports. Electric wheelchairs using microprocessors were also developed in the 80s. After this, more and more types of wheelchairs became considered as antique, so, many new developments have replaced them.